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How to avoid tech injuries

How to avoid tech injuries

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I’m online a lot – for work (communications), for hobby time (blogging) and social media (phone). Over the past few years I’ve needed to actively take precautions against tech injuries like aching wrist, sore neck and back.

Recently I was working diligently during the day, multitasking between updating a website, writing a blog and replying to some emails. I dragged an item into Dropbox as part of a backup that I intended to run, only for my computer to freeze for thirty seconds, then shut down.

I took a deep breath, believing if I restarted my new laptop (only a few months old) that it would all simply reset. Over 45 minutes later I admitted defeat and called my tech services experts. The news was bad – I’d need a total reinstall and wouldn’t have my laptop back for a few days. *sob*

Then I went about doing something really stupid. Instead of accepting a loan option, I chose to work mostly from my phone, and calling in the odd favour from a colleague to do work that absolutely needed to be done on a computer.

I was rather proud of my efforts and how much I could actually utilise my phone for – emails, cloud based services, even photo editing! I love being independent (ask my parents; this trait drove them nuts!).

That evening though, my arm was so sore from the tips of my fingers to the back of my neck. The next day my tech injury was exasperated further, and I couldn’t type or text. My day of efficiency turned into a week of pain. All my fault, and I should have known better.

A longer term tech injury I am mindful of is a very uncomfortable neck pain that I get that starts at the side of my head (headache) and runs all the way down my neck and into my shoulder blade near the middle of my back. It happens if I sit in the wrong position or on an unsupported surface for too long looking at a screen and sometimes it’s really tough to get rid of.

We can live in harmony with our gadgets and avoid tech injuries, and the first step is being aware that we can end up in just as much strife over inappropriate posture and repetitive movements on phones, as we can by running about playing tennis or at the gym without knowing what we’re doing.

There’s a helpful blog by a sports therapy service provider in Brighton that I’ve discovered, which looks at topics like how stress can cause pain, why it’s important to keep an eye on your posture while at work, case studies and myth busters on health and wellbeing.

After years of working in front of screens, I now live by a few rules that save me pain:

  1. Seek advice on the right angle and height for your computer screen. This makes all the difference in avoiding unnecessary neck pain and wrist strain. It’s also a good idea to investigate whether you are using the right mouse, keyboard and sitting in an appropriate chair for your body type, height and type of work.
  2. Take breaks if you find yourself texting, editing, Instagramming or emailing for long periods of time on a smart phone or tablet.
  3. Remember to exercise and stretch regularly. Personally I find yoga is essential. Also the weight machines in the gym (especially those where you are working the muscles of your arms and back) are really helpful for balancing bad posture or sitting in front of a laptop for hours. I have had advice from professionals on this though, but personal trainers and yoga instructors are so accessible these days (on and offline), so no excuses for DIY in this area until you are properly advised.
  4. We have also been offered helpful advice advice from physiotherapists in the past – it’s amazing that something that has long ailed you can be rectified thanks to professional insight.
  5. Be mindful of your body – you know it best, so if something doesn’t feel right don’t let it go. Most tech injuries are preventable. Seek advice and don’t live with little aches – what a shame if you ignore it and it becomes a larger problem.

 

What’s your experience with tech injuries? Your stories, tips and experience is welcome, let us know on social media or in the comments below.

 

Impact of social media on youth: helpful rules for happy households

Impact of social media on youth: helpful rules for happy households

The impact of social media on youth is highly debated in the media. Does social media expose your child to danger, what do you think?

Possibly, but I believe the risks can be reduced, as long as we’re prepared to be curious about how the younger gen consumes digital media, and understand how they are using social platforms so we can make sure they’re doing so safely and age-appropriately.

Impact of social media on youth

At the end of summer term, my school held a disco to celebrate year six students finishing primary school. To capture this momentous occasion, students were allowed to bring in smart phones/mobile devices (normally banned during school hours).

They embraced this freedom with vigorous enthusiasm. My colleagues and I watched in amazement as the serious selfie-obsession (video and photos) unfolded before our eyes. Sadly, some students preferred to play on their devices, engrossed in games (missing the significance of the event) and chatting with friends online, who were at the disco! We also witnessed some students vent frustration and anger at not being able to upload their images. They were missing out on ‘likes’, you see; the more ‘likes’ achieved, the more popular they perceive themselves to be. Not a totally healthy reflection of real life – thanks Kim K and co.!

Did you know?

The most frequent activity amongst children today is engaging in social media? Any site which allows your child to interact socially, such as Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Twitter, Youtube and gaming portals are all classed as social media.

I’ll be honest, I love social media and technology. This digital revolution means we benefit from a fantastic flow of information, learning and open communication. But, ‘with great power, comes great responsibility,’ and this applies to adults (parents, teachers, carers) and children, who of course due to age, are more vulnerable to peer pressure and dangers of digital as they experiment in this space.

It’s no great secret that the digital age has a dark side, and there can be collateral damage associated with it. There are many dangers kids will encounter on their journey through adolescence, including as they navigate social media and its boundaries. Remember, this is NOT about your child being naive, immature, untrustworthy or naughty – kids are kids, and there’s only so much they can be expected to navigate safely on their own.

What are the dangers?

  • cyber bullying,
  • sexual predators,
  • criminals,
  • sharing or consumption of inappropriate photos and video
  • sharing too much information which can lead to anything from your home being burgled, to a young person sharing photos-not-set-for-public-consumption, tagged with your precise physical location!

As a parent (and teacher, for that matter), if you lack a basic understanding of social media, and find it difficult to communicate with digitally-confident children, you are manifesting a disconnect between you and the youngster in your care.

Here are ways to help you navigate this new socialisation and to bridge that technical gap.

Social media and teens – helpful rules

Talk to your child

…about specific issues they may be dealing with, or what other children may be encountering online.

Become curious and better educated

…about the many technologies children and teenagers are using. There are plenty of ways you can learn more – local courses, YouTube tutorials, personal coaches or simply ask questions on areas that are new to you.

Instigate family discussions concerning online topics

check privacy settings (including location settings on mobile devices), and keep an eye on online profiles for inappropriate posts. On the point of security, if you’re worried, seek advice and assistance from your local mobile phone store, an IT or digital media consultant, or speak to your mobile / broadband provider.

Discuss the importance of your supervising online activities

…through active participation and communication. If the child in your care is out with friends or socialising and playing somewhere in the ‘real world’, I’d expect you would know where they are, who they are with and that they’re being effectively supervised. The same rules apply to online activity. You should be aware of ‘where’ online they are hanging out, and who it is they’re liaising with. Wonder how kids can get into trouble? Press play on the video linked above – you’ll realise why it’s important to take control.

Keep all devices in a public area

…in the home such as places you can monitor as you’re cooking or wandering through a room e.g. lounge, kitchen, dining. I’d also urge you to seriously consider why any child needs to take a mobile device to bed… (actually, we adults shouldn’t either – it’s a dreadful habit – put them away at night!).

Be prepared

Have a strategy in place for if/when your child may be exposed to inappropriate content.

Set aside quality time with your child

…doing things they are interested in, and vary activities across digital and real-life platforms.

Be available

All adults lead busy hectic lives, but it’s our responsibility to make time, be informed and implement safety strategies

…for online activity, just as we do for anything our kids are involved with.

 

Child psychologist, Dr Richard Woolfson believes, “Parents need to maintain an open dialogue and encourage children to share both good and bad online experiences, and make sure they keep up with the latest social media crazes, and work with their children rather than trying to control them.”

The world is a different place to when we were children, and things are vastly changed compared with even as recently as ten years ago. As a parent or carer, it’s critically important to remain aware and prepared for how this type of communication and technology truly impacts and works in kids’ lives and in the home. Develop rules that fit best in your household – just because another family does it one way, if a certain rule or process doesn’t sit right with you, use your discretion. Above all, seek information and educate yourself – it’s not good enough to claim that new technology ‘aint your thing! But who knows, by learning something more, you might end up enjoying this new frontier as much as the kids do.

-By Cooper Dawson

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The new technology rules

The new technology rules

new technology rules travellivelearn.comAs someone who manages my own business and time, I can often be found tapping away on my laptop in comfy bars, cosy coffee shops and on a nice day, occasionally amongst nature in a nice park. I was out and about recently and found a neat little bar with free WiFi where I chose to pause for a while and work. Two young guys took up a spot at the table behind me and I became interested in their conversation about how they make their relationships work effectively − with particular reference to the rules now imposed in their households with regards to technology access.

We’re all aware the constant bombardment of contact and information can be overwhelming, although, I’ve noticed recently that some are more aware of this than others. For instance, what’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Once upon a time I used to specifically get up early to get through my utterly ridiculous amounts of emails. Coffee at the ready, I’d use this beautiful, energised time of the day to plough through my inboxes, followed by a mindless scroll through Facebook. I’ve since realised this is not at all the most efficient use of my most alert and creative moments in the day. Similarly, prior to going to bed − and following nights and nights of restless and less-than-enjoyable sleep − I came to understand that answering emails and being entranced by the iPad’s bright glare up until bedtime is far from a positive practice.

Though I’ve made these discoveries for myself and have adjusted my routine and behaviour, I have a tough time trying to influence my nearest and dearest who still insist that they do not have time to put the technology away, so that period up until sleep and first thing in the morning is when they’re used to catching up on social and clearing emails.

How healthy is that though?

This is why I was intrigued to hear these boys (probably under 30), saying that they have rules in their households. One said he and his girlfriend have set aside an evening a week where technology is turned off the moment they each arrive home, and they use this designated evening to go on a date, read, talk or… you get the idea. His mate countered by agreeing that “time off from tech” is necessary; he and his partner switch everything off at 7pm, and tech is not allowed in the bedroom (and no, they do not need a phone for their morning alarm − they purchased an old fashioned alarm clock for this purpose… yep, they even talked about this).

Experts ranging from business coaches to sex therapists are all advocates of rules for technology, and scientific studies are consistently proving that [inadvertent] obsessive use is negatively impacting on our mental well-being and our closest, important relationships.

new technology rules travellivelearn.comAfter listening to these boys and investigating a little further, I’m wondering if the under 30s have it sussed. They’ve grown up with this tech, and while they will all say they simply cannot live without their mobile phones, they also seem to take the tech in their stride.

The solution is possibly more simple than the actual devising and implementing of “rules” though. Being mindful of your behaviour is really the trick. Do you really want to still be working at 8pm − will you be thanked for it? Or more importantly, does it enhance your life and relationships? Is scrolling through Facebook the activity you most want to engage in right before sleep (keeping in mind the majority of “life updates” here are contrived anyway? First thing in the morning, is email correspondence going to make your day fantastic, or, would a nicer way to start the day be going outside for a walk, taking five minutes for a breath and noting positive intentions for the day, or even spending 15 minutes writing the book you have in your head or updating the blog you love but have neglected for 18 months?

New technology rules │ 5 of my favourite top tips from today’s experts

  1. Schedule time for emails throughout the day; do not let it be an ongoing, all-consuming task; designate one hour mid morning, one in the afternoon. Also, begin to manage client/boss/co-worker expectations about when you will respond. It IS possible.
  2. Choose to be mindful about when and why you’re on social media. It’s got a time and place, but in the end, your time is better spent communicating with family and friends, learning a new skill/hobby, or reading a book.
  3. Studies have shown the light from mobile devices is akin to sunlight, and tricks the brain into thinking it’s “awake” time. Moral of the story − spend some time away from that screen before going to bed, and if you can’t sleep, whatever you do, don’t turn to it for companionship because you’ll be up even longer.
  4. Do you pick up your smart phone or tablet at any given moment when you’re not working or eating; Is it really necessary, or are you doing it out of habit? Further studies have found our behaviour with regards to tech is effectively an addiction, and consequently, we’re missing out on being present and experiencing life… for the sake of a notification that someone has liked our last post, or followed us on Twitter.
  5. If nothing else, start your day by writing down a positive intention you hold for the day ahead, e.g. I will have a happy, confident and positive day at work. Try this for a few weeks before you switch on the (usually negative) news, or scroll Facebook to see what everyone else is up to – put you and your own positive mindset first… you might be surprised at how your day does actually shift!

 

By Sarah Blinco. Originally published Get it Magazine, March 2015